Creating hospice nurse residency program was a labor of love for one RN

It’s not easy to find nurses with hospice care skills. So one hospice provider took charge and developed a hospice nurse residency program to ensure it had a ready pipeline of nurses.

Now, the nurse who developed the hospice nurse residency program is creating a template for a toolkit that any hospice program could use to train new and experienced nurses who want to become hospice case managers.

Susan Lysaght Hurley, PhD, RN, director of research at Massachusetts-based Care Dimensions, said the journey to develop a hospice nurse residency program began in 2014, when the Massachusetts Healthcare Workforce Transformation Fund awarded Care Dimensions $249,000 to develop and launch training initiatives, including a residency program and preceptor training.

Susan Lysaght Hurley, PhD, RN

The grant was in response to a recognized need for more trained staff to care for the growing hospice and palliative care populations.

“In nursing schools, there are some critical efforts underway to increase exposure to palliative care content in the nursing curriculum,” she said. “But there still are gaps. We wanted to offer this as a transition to practice model.”

The resulting hospice nurse residency program, which is three months long for experienced nurses and six months for new graduate nurses, introduces mentors and transitions nurses into hospice care careers.

Launched in 2015, Care Dimensions’ hospice nurse residency trains between four and six nurses a year and has trained more than 20 nurses to date.

The program includes classroom lectures and a significant amount of field placement training, according to Hurley.

“From the second week on, they’re in the field doing shadowing,” she said.

The residency also can include simulation and pediatric hospice care training. It also features a dedicated preceptorship, so nurses have a one-to-one preceptor to help introduce them to the nurse case manager role.

The residency is both a recruiting and a retention tool that encourages educational achievement. Nurses who complete the Care Dimensions hospice nurse residency commit to working as full-time case managers there for two years.

The residency also makes graduates eligible to sit for the national exam to become a Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse (CHPN) before the end of the two-year commitment.

Transition to a national model

In January, Hurley was one of 10 palliative care leaders in the country accepted into the Cambia Health Foundation’s Sojourns Scholar Leadership Program.

The program’s identifies, empowers and advances palliative care leaders to make a difference in the specialty.

Hurley, like other Sojourns Scholars, will receive $180,000 over two years. In her case, the funding is to build a national model toolkit for a hospice nurse residency that prepares nurses to become hospice case managers. The model will be tested in three other hospices across the country.

Hurley’s goal is to create a national model for improving the quality and sustainability of the hospice and palliative care nursing workforce.

“This project addresses the gap between nursing education and practice for new graduate and experienced registered nurses wanting to begin a career in this specialty field,” Hurley said in a Care Dimensions press …read more

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